Kara Sellix, MSW, LSW, President & Co-Founder
Kara earned her Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University where she also earned a certificate in aging studies and healthcare. As a licensed social worker in NJ, she currently works with older adults experiencing disability, chronic illness and loss as well as with children with developmental disabilities who are in crisis. During her clinical practicums she completed an internship with Pony Power Therapies, where she worked with many individuals including children with disabilities and medical conditions and is also a proud graduate of the NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities’ Partners in Policymaking program. As an older sister to Katie, who has autism, Kara became motivated to start SIBS NJ after speaking with families and attending parents’ meetings in Bergen and Passaic counties where many issues of parents were addressed. The outcry of frustration and panic made her want to do something about the lack of services, funding and housing for people with special needs in the state, particularly for adults and their families. However, she also felt that her needs and the needs of her peers who are also siblings are inadequately addressed by service providers and society at large. Kara hopes to help other sibs connect with one another as a way to create a network of support for people who have siblings with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or mental illnesses and bring awareness of sibling issues to the table with many other organizations serving this population.
Contact Kara at Kara.firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen Sellix, MSW, LSW, Co-Founder
Kristen is a behaviorist with The Arc of Bergen and Passaic Counties. She is a former intern from West Bergen Mental Healthcare where most of her work was with clients in outpatient social skills groups for autism spectrum disorder. Like Kara, Kristen has also been working with individuals with disabilities and their families throughout her life. She enjoys using her unique sibling perspective and life experiences to support her clinical knowledge. Currently at The Arc, she works in community residential services. She hopes to help sibs through The Arc and SIBS NJ, many of whom are also guardians and trustees for consumers in group homes and day programs, to always feel included in their siblings lives while they are living in that group home/supportive housing setting and navigating services in general. She strives to help sibs connect, from childhood to adulthood, so they can find a new network of support while engaging in activities that raise self-awareness and increased coping skills. Through SIBS NJ, Kristen develops ideas for supportive networks, group events, and how to educate and engage service providers in conversations regarding the needs of siblings.
Contact Kristen at Kristen.email@example.com
Nancy Nasr, MSW
Nancy earned her Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University where she focused on clinical work with individuals with chronic mental illness as well as children with serious medical conditions. As a former teacher and counselor for individuals with disabilities ranging from children to adults, Nancy has always enjoyed working with individuals with special needs as she found it both challenging and rewarding. As a clinical intern, Nancy worked with individuals with severe mental illness at an outpatient day program in Clifton, and she found the experience to be life changing. Becoming friends with Kara during her first year at Rutgers as well, the two formed a strong friendship. Nancy became one of Kara and Kristen’s biggest sib supporters as well as an example to them of the fact that there are sib supporters out there who do care and want to participate in the sibling movement. Nancy recognizes due to her experiences in the field the very nuanced and significant issues facing not only siblings of individuals with special needs but also siblings of individuals with mental health problems. Through their combined perspectives, Nancy hopes to help SIBS NJ grow through the work of siblings and sib supporters so that their voices and the messages they wish to convey are heard collectively, thus, providing a greater impact. Through her community outreach and sibling-supporter initiatives, Nancy seeks to educate other non-sibs such as educators and clinicians on the needs of siblings, the significance of siblings as care givers and friends to their disabled sib, and to include parents and community members in the conversation in order to help families as a whole live healthier, happier lives.
Contact Nancy at NancyNasr28@gmail.com
Cheryl holds her degree in Public Relations and currently works for The Arc of New Jersey as the Coordinator of Family Advocacy and Services. Her program, the Family Advocacy Program (www.ArcFamilyAdvocacy.org) empowers New Jersey families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become personally involved with public policy and advocacy. She also serves as the Co-Chair of New Jersey’s Regional Family Support Planning Council 5 (which serves Mercer, Middlesex, and Hunderdon Counties) and is a proud graduate of New Jersey’s Partners in Policymaking program. Cheryl has been involved in developmental disability advocacy work since she was 12 years-old, when she gave her first speech in Harrisburg, PA during a budget hearing. Cheryl’s older brother, Adam, has autism and an intellectual disability. While Adam lives at home with their parents, Cheryl helps with keeping track of and organizing Adam’s supports and services.
Contact Cheryl at Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly is the oldest of four children. Her youngest brother Kraig has developmental disabilities and Kelly has been incredibly involved in supporting him in all of his school and community activities. Currently, Kelly works as an advocate at Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), with a focus on providing assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities through the Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities program (PADD). Through this role, she was appointed by Governor Christie to be a member of the New Jersey Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), which serves to maximize opportunities for people with disabilities through planning and advocacy. While working at DRNJ, Kelly earned her Master’s Degree in Mental Disability Law at New York Law School. Prior to working as an advocate at DRNJ, Kelly was a special education teacher, primarily working with students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and severe cognitive disabilities. She has also volunteered with Special Olympics New Jersey and has remained a continuous supporter of the program.
Contact Kelly at Kelly.email@example.com